Australia ended a run of seven consecutive defeats against New Zealand with a 23-18 victory over the world champions in the final Bledisloe Cup clash at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The Wallabies came agonisingly close to beating the All Blacks in Dunedin two months ago, but they were not to be denied a first win over their trans-Tasman rivals since August 2015 in former captain Stephen Moore's last Test on home soil.
Reece Hodge and the excellent Israel Folau went over in the first half and Marika Koroibete added a fourth try in his last three Tests after the break, as tries from Waisake Naholo and the prolific Rieko Ioane proved to be in vain for the Rugby Championship winners.
Hodge also showed his ability from the tee, holding his nerve to slot over a couple of brilliantly judged second-half penalties after Bernard Foley endured a poor evening with the boot.
Lima Sopoaga slotted over two penalties from two attempts in his second All Blacks start in the absence of Beauden Barrett, ruled out after suffering from concussion symptoms, but New Zealand were unable to mark Kieran Read’s 100th start by securing a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep.
The visitors started brightly but they were behind when Hodge turned on the afterburners to race away for the opening try only seven minutes in, with Sopoaga having gifted the wing possession under pressure from Will Genia.
Australia's advantage was short-lived, New Zealand rewarded for persistently knocking on the door with a simple finish from Naholo on the right flank following a whipped pass from Aaron Smith.
Sopoaga converted and the stand-in fly-half put his side six points up with a couple of penalties as the hosts struggled to keep hold of a wet ball and toiled at the breakdown on a damp surface following persistent rain in Brisbane.
The Wallabies looked disjointed in the first half but were only 13-12 down at the break after Michael Hooper and Tevita Kuridrani made ground down the middle before the Folau burst through a gap to go over for a try, which Foley failed to convert.
Lukhan Tui replaced Rob Simmons early in the second half after the lock was carried off following lengthy treatment and Foley missed an opportunity to edge Australia back in front from the tee after great breakdown work from Jack Dempsey.
The Wallabies had the bit between their teeth and Koroibete put them four points up by rounding off a slick move from right to left following fine passes from Folau and Foley, who once again could not add the extras.
Hodge showed Foley how it is done by slotting over a penalty from wide on the left soon after Moore came on for his swansong on home soil, but the lethal Ioane crossed for his ninth try in 10 Tests nine minutes from time after taking a pass from Read following a great offload from Sonny Bill Williams
Damian McKenzie was unable to convert and Hodge landed a mammoth penalty in another tense finale, as this time Australia avoided late heartbreak.
20. Juni 2018
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